8 Powerful Subliminal Messages in the Media

In the 1962 film, The Manchurian Candidate, an American soldier is turned into an assassin by the Soviets and the Chinese, by means of sophisticated brainwashing techniques. The soldier, Staff Sergeant Raymond Shaw, played by Laurence Harvey, is now controlled by his communist overseers and does their bidding, in this case, assassinate the President of the U.S., in a gamble to secure the country for Soviet purposes. The issue here is the possibility of mind control. Is it at all possible? The 20th century saw the advent of advertising and the ideas of Edward Bernays, Freud’s American nephew, who applied his uncle’s theories to advertising and effectively “persuaded” the public to buy, consume, believe or support countless products and policies. Bernays effectively carried out a coup that dethroned man’s sovereignty over himself, if ever he had it, and unleashed a powerful weapon of persuasion. The final blow to man’s autonomy came with the appearance of subliminal messages, signals or messages embedded in another medium that act below the threshold of consciousness, i.e., perception and can influence later thoughts, behavior, values and actions. The most famous example of subliminal manipulation occurred in 1957 when a marketing researcher flashed the phrases "Drink Coca-Cola" and "Eat popcorn" for 1/2000 of a second during a movie, causing sales of those products to rise considerably during the intermission. Another example is the effort carried out by 50 American department stores to curtail theft in their establishments. With the aid of an expert, the department store managers installed a device that broadcasts Musak embedded with anti-theft subliminal messages. Customers were bombarded with 9,000 anti-theft subliminal messages an hour melodically emanating from the stores’ loudspeakers. Results indicated that theft and internal inventory shrinkage were actually reduced by up to 37% in stores using subliminal messages. Experts are not sure whether subliminal messages work or not, but there does seem to be something there, and advertisers and political campaigners keen on getting an edge include it in their ads even though it is illegal. Be warned reader, your actions may not be your own. Here are 10 powerful subliminal messages in the media.

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